I still remember the first major holiday when I didn’t go “home.” Back then, home still felt like where I had come from rather than where I rested my head every night. My husband was deployed, I was working, and there was not enough time to travel “home.” My brother, who lived about 4 hours away, was also alone, and we decided to have our own Thanksgiving that year. It was… magnificent. Don’t get me wrong, I missed my husband, but what could have been a very sullen day turned out to be the best Thanksgiving I had yet experienced.
What did we do that was so great? Not much – we spent most of the weekend watching Comedy Central roasts, grabbed some Boston Market for dinner, and I brought a pie with me so we ate that too. Late Thanksgiving night my brother realized he needed something from Best Buy, so we drove over for the fastest ever Black Friday shopping experience. Mostly we just enjoyed each other’s company, something we did not get to do much anymore. It was simple, and special in its own quiet way.
Since then we’ve travelled the long distance to be with our extended families a couple of times, but if I am completely honest, our best holidays have been the times when we didn’t. Whether it is just our immediate family or us and some local friends, everything is so much less stressful without traveling during an already chaotic time. We get to eat food we know we like, respect the kids’ naptimes, and really just chill and soak in the holidays.
If this holiday season is looking different for you, embrace the change. This year we are grilling for Thanksgiving because hey, it’s Hawaii and it doesn’t make sense to cook a whole turkey without the crowd to eat it. Last Christmas we stayed in our matching pajamas all day and baked dinosaur-shaped sugar cookies. Cook something special that you never have time for, or order take out. It isn’t a turkey or random relatives you make small talk with once a year that make Thanksgiving and Christmas what they are. That special holiday spirit everyone is after has to come from within, and that is true no matter where you are celebrating.